1945 film fight scene using reality based real martial arts

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

With the emerging popularity of Mixed Martial Arts it should be no surprise that films in Hollywood and beyond would be immersing their fight scenes with triangle chokes, judo throws and armbars.

But long before films like John Wick, Never Back Down and even Lethal Weapon had started to expand their martial arts choreography repertoire, one 1945 Hollywood film had already displayed a well-rounded and intricate fight scene during a time when a simple John Wayne punch was the norm.

1945 TV fight scene using reality based real martial arts
1945 TV fight scene using reality based real martial arts

Blood on the Sun; a 1945 film produced by William Cagney Productions stars the producers’ brother James Cagney as a journalist working for the Tokyo Chronicle during Imperial Japan and his struggle against the Japanese authorities. (who are all played by Caucasian actors)

Insisting he would perform his own stunts for the audience James would train Judo at the Seinan Dojo in Los Angeles under the late Kenneth Kaname Kuniyuki, 9th Dan Judo Shihan. He would keep up the practice for most of his life afterwards.

The espionage thriller builds itself up to a final confrontation between Cagney’s character Nick Condon and the imposing Captain Oshimi played by John Halloran (a fellow Judoka who also served as technical advisor and is also caucasian)

A nonstop fight scene featuring doses of boxing, judo throws, a questionable arm bar escape, an arm triangle and a rear lapel choke the sequence went far beyond the average film viewer’s expectations of a fight scene during the 40’s and was far ahead of its time.

Despite all this effort it did not prove to be a box office draw but it is still an interesting footnote in the world of fight cinema and came almost 30 years ahead of Bruce Lee applying a Kimura during the opening of 1973’s Enter the Dragon.